Kelowna mayoral candidates clash over Costco location

A tale of two mayoral candidates, and a Costco

Tom Dyas says he would fight to keep Costco in Kelowna, should he be elected mayor.

In an open letter to the warehouse retailer, Dyas said that he heard Costco representatives did not receive a warm welcome when they went to the City of Kelowna to discuss a new location, and were asked to change their distribution model and look at a store with two floors.

“I can truly appreciate that a $126 billion business with 514 stores worldwide, generating an approximate average of $163 million US per store, has a distribution model that is tried, tested and true,” he writes, adding Costco pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes, provides approximately 200 jobs, supports many non-profit organizations and is an economic driver for our community.

All this and the related tax revenue would be lost, he said, should the move over the bridge be made.

“I am hoping to convince you to wait until after the Oct. 20 election. I would like to invite you back to Kelowna, or alternatively, if I am successful in being elected as Kelowna’s mayor I would go to your head office in Washington to discuss alternatives within our community, as I do believe we could do better in finding a solution,” he said.

While the letter makes it seem as though Costco is on the move due to poor treatment from the city, Mayor Colin Basran said that’s not the case.

RELATED: Reports that Costco is moving are just ‘rumour and hearsay’

“Absolutely not, in fact it’s the opposite—I instructed staff to work with representatives to find viable locations to consider for re-locating and (that process) is ongoing,” he said.

“We certainly let them know we value them in the community and we don’t want them to leave Kelowna. This is an attempt by a candidate running for mayor to grab headlines.”

Basran said during city talks with Costco representatives, they discussed the business model.

Staff asked if the model needed to be similar, or if it could be two storeys, like the one in Vancouver.

They were also asked questions like, if a parkade like the one Ikea has in Coquitlam would be viable.

“That shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that we would ask what sort of options are on the table,” said Basran, noting that’s how things work with all developers.

Basran also said while some locations within city boundaries have been explored — like the airport business park— no applications have been made.

Costco is aware that a move to the airport business park could be cost prohibitive due to Ministry of Transportation requirements, to accommodate increased traffic.

RELATED: Kelowna mayor says he’ll run on his record in election despite criticism from challenger

A media representative for Costco said that it is company policy to not comment regarding future Costco warehouses until they are ready to share details about the new location.

That usually happens two to three months in advance.

And Rod Shultz one of the assistant general manager’s of the Kelowna store went on a Costco Facebook group in recent months and said there have been no decisions on when or where the new location might go.

“A lot of speculation out there and we may know more in the new year,” he wrote. “Until then all of this is just rumour and hearsay.”

Since August of 1991 Costco Wholesale has been at the current location and around 400 people are employed at the store.

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